Short Rest

Waking up before 7 AM in each of the past two days to do early morning radio hits has me bleary-eyed as the playoffs begin, particularly given how late I was up working on my preview of the Phillies-Brewers series for Baseball Prospectus. Monday’s makeup game and Tuesday’s Game 163 playoff certainly didn’t help my cause when it came to buckling down to get work done.

Like the other BP series previews (Christina Kahrl on Dodgers-Cubs, Joe Sheehan on Red Sox-Angels, with White Sox-Rays still pending) it’s mirrored over at SportsIllustrated.com. For those of you that simply want to cut to the chase and avoid the numbers, here’s the payoff. I don’t think it’ll make my in-laws happy, but I gotta call ‘em like I see ‘em in this racket, and anyway, I hedged my bets:

This is a more even series than it might appear to be at first glance given the state of the Brewers’ pitching staff. That the Brewers might face southpaws three times in a five-game series helps their cause just a hair due to two of those starts being taken by Hamels. The biggest difference between the two clubs appears to be at the front end of their bullpens, where the Phils enjoy a considerable advantage, and the feeling here is that unless the Brewers can find a way to get Sabathia a second turn on the hill for a Game Five, that bullpen edge may prove decisive. I’m predicting the Phillies in four, but if the Brewers can force a rubber game, my money’s on the big man.

Also, the flip side of my not-so-happy take on the closing of Yankee Stadium is up at Bronx Banter. It’s a top ten countdown of my favorite memories of attending games at Yankee Stadium. A small taste that won’t give away too much:

7. The sweltering Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2000 when my friend Julie and I practically peed ourselves laughing at the sight of a young Hasidic Jewish man who somehow fell out of the stands, far enough down the left field line to where the wall starts to slant upwards, a good six or eight foot drop onto the field. Visibly dazed and confused, perhaps even with a broken arm, he was escorted off the premises. His pain was our comedic gain, an eternal reminder of the rough justice of the Bronx.

6. The night of August, 8, 2000, when Oakland closer Jason Isringhausen came on to protect a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning but lasted only two pitches, surrendering solo homers to Bernie Williams and David Justice. The Yankees of the Joe Torre era made routine sport of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, but never did they do so with more surgical precision than that.

I could easily have expanded the list to 20, and once things cool off, I’ll run a countdown of the best of the rest here.

Moving along:

• The New York Sun, an occasional outlet for my writing via a syndication deal with BP, has closed up shop. I won’t miss their neoconservative politics at all, but their baseball coverage was something else entirely, with Steven Goldman and Tim Marchman appearing regularly, and several BP authors (myself included) getting their first chance to reach the daily newsstands. Christina Kahrl eulogized the sports page.

Apparently, my piece from last week was the final one from our BP syndication agreement. When you folks and your robot monkeys get around to building me the Wikipedia fan page I so richly deserve, please be sure to include that tidbit.

• Alex Belth had something to add about the Sun as well, along with discussing Goldman’s last piece and the latest Neyer-Jaffe throwdown. On the latter, so did the good folks at YanksFanSoxFan. Thanks, guys.

• Finally, I haven’t had time to write about it anywhere, but I’m elated to hear that Brian Cashman has decided to remain with the Yankees for another three years. I suspect that the dearth of job openings had something to do with that; currently the Mariners have the only GM vacancy. The Dodgers, whom Cashman grew up rooting for and who might be an attractive destination given their payroll and the obvious Joe Torre link, are likely to keep Ned Colletti on after winning the division; that Manny Ramirez trade saved his hide.

Interesting in its own right is that former Yankee and current Dodger assistant GM Kim Ng appears to be the leading contender for the Mariners job. She was the first woman ever to interview for a GM job back in 2005 when the Dodgers tabbed Colletti (ugh) and she’s held in such high esteem within the game that it’s likely only a matter of time before she lands in the big chair.

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